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Info - Useful Open Source applications

Introduction

Sometimes it's fiscally (or otherwise) prudent to use software applications that save money and are available for multiple computer platforms.  A well-known open source browser is Firefox.  Other software is available but may not be as well recognized.

This information could be useful to anyone who works with content that would be shared across platforms (e.g., Windows and Mac). 

It is helpful to know how to download and install software packages on the appropriate computer OS.

The creator of the file needs to consider user-friendly file formats and, therefore, is responsible for saving files in formats that any user can open. 

Disclaimer

No recommendation or warranty can be or is given, suggested, or implied by any link.
Links are included for your information only.

Word Processing, Spreadsheet, Presentation, and more -

OpenOffice (openoffice.org) has the cross-platform suite that is compatible with Microsoft Office (and more).  It opens and "Saves As" both the previous .doc/.xls./.ppt and the new .docx/.xlsx/.pptx formats.

In addition, it has both graphics and database applications in the free, downloadable package. 

 For Mac users, there's also NeoOffice (neooffice.org) that is based on OpenOffice and is a native Mac OSX application.

Multi-Media

The open-source VLC Media Player (videolan.org/vlc) has multi-platform versions and plays various audio and video formats, plus DVDs, CDs, and some streaming formats. It often plays a media file that a computer's native application can't read. 

There are, unfortunately, some video formats that are not cross-platform (i.e., codecs) and will only play on one operating system.  Again, the originator is responsible for using cross-platform formats.

PDF

Since PDF files are cross-platform, they are very user-friendly documents.  Creating a PDF file used to be a complex and expensive process.  Mac users can now use the built-in Save as PDF feature from the Print window.

MS Office 2007 Windows (registered trademarks, etc.) users have a print to PDF feature available, but other applications don't appear to have access to it.

There are third-party PDF printer drivers for Windows, like PrimoPDF (http://www.primopdf.com/) and doPDF (http://www.dopdf.com/) that will print an open document to a PDF file on the user's computer (YMMV).

Note, some PDF files created by these methods will have larger file sizes than they might have had if created by other means, but the user-friendliness may overweigh the file size, in most instances. :|

File Size - compression

Since not everyone is on high-speed connections, the originating user also must consider how big the document to be sent is.  Or maybe the originator has multiple files to send. That used to be a more complex issue, but now both Mac and Windows have built-in compression/archiving appz.

Mac calls it "Make Archive of ...." (the dots are the name of the file folder to be archived.

Windows calls it "Send to compressed/zipped folder."

A zipped file is often smaller than the sum of the parts in the folder, but not always - depends on the parts.  Multi-media files often can be compressed to smaller packages than text=based files.

Both Mac and Windows create a .zip file (not to be confused with the Iomega Zip drive) that keeps the folder's content intact, including traveling through a system such as LMS that might not recognize the original file extension (<geek talk> the letters after a period on the end of a file name - usually invisible - that tells a computer what the file is and what will open it - <end of geek talk>). If those extension letters are not recognized along the trip, it's possible they arrive as a totally different format, but the file won't open or may be completely corrupted.

WARNING - to be safe - always close the documents and quit their application to avoid another kind of file corruption. (Too geeky to try to explain fully, but it happens too often for it to be omitted from this NFO page. 

The only possible drawback with this kind of packaged file is that some email systems may reject a .zip file as a possible security threat.  Again YMMV.

 -- more to come, i hope --

Free-Mail Appz

a new one for Windows and Mac

http://www.postbox-inc.com/

see their info 

 

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